Jerit

JERIT 
(Malay for ‘howl ’) 

**Excerpt from Onkalo (Math Paper Press, 2013)

And so he says it again

through headlines screaming black bold Serif
on undulating white perimeters

Write − You will have the freedom to write –
He says as he spouts jibber-jabber from pink, watery lips
like swine-filled halos of doom
  
from the plume of corrupt plinths of marble arches
stretched across the abyss of power,

You, who have seized morality from cowards
engaged in chit-chat over the rights

To write – What is right?

  stemming from pulsating vagus nerves
wandering over loose craniums, viaduct throats
binary clots, loose thoraxes, abdomens filled
with bilious bull,

You who rile with constipated gall

You who sing the loose song of false freedoms

You, who in toothless defense watch the night cower
with homeless street urchins on Bukit Bintang

hungry from spent mothers who spread their thin thighs
to the glazed-eyed workers high from inhaling toiled
humid days, sifting their morals and might from concrete
constructing more pricks to adorn
the history of this city of mud,

Will you let us write of new pages by those

  who in yellow-infused riotous colour

betrayed the hallowed streets of the city

  in the hundreds, in the tens and tens of thousands
who fought back the tear-gassed alleys
with brave tears and Maalox
  
and damp Good Morning towels
armed with children who shrieked
when the extra-strength gas laced
their young eyes, nimble throats?

Of those who were faced with the ends of black-eyed boots
swirling batons, swallowing their own blood

and the towering lies of a people’s revolution

pulsated by the wrath of pubescent
policemen in nameless fatigues –

  your shadow army, while we passed on
mighty green, yellow balls

  and sang bravely whilst clutching
empty hand phones that gave not
their paid networks, the final strains
of the Negaraku,

Will you let us write of the deaths in police custody
in the corridors and balconies of the MACC, which
in their silences welcomed the deaths
  
of those who did not deserve to die
of the grazed back and bruised torso of Kugan
of the twisted neck that Beng Hock did not use to bear
of the sultry songs that she, with new breasts

sang while she squatted and was made to lie

  on soiled concrete floors?

Or of the incandescent C4 that blew her up

  and the unsinkable submarine that colludes you

with an unspeakable crime, with

the One of the wind-blown face and sticky hair of grime
witch-doctor magic, that soiled her childhood with dark filth
and the loin-cloths of bloodied cocks

of the tiger child lulled by the wind
  
of the monsoons that birthed her –

her legacy of guilt?

Will you let us write of the hunger that sucks us

  in meaningless traffic voids and unworthy

side-kicked, bastardised mantras of feel-good phonetic tunes
in between pin-pricks of holy spaces

  in between cars that reek of carbon monoxide

  the cacophony of Toyota’s, Hyundai’s

Proton’s and Myvi’s

that scream unholy visions

  of cancer-ridden ploys?
You, with emptied-out legions of xanax, cocaine and ecstasy
who wither into the cunning dreams of spirit guardians

  and the ghosts of suburbia, who with endless

glee roam into your days and nights
penetrating ethereal slumbers with porn-filled ease


with the magnetic sweep of jazz, K-pop and gangsta-rap

thump-pa-thum-thumping into the blackest of black nights,

The city of mud and shadows will claim you

  and night-toils reap you, of ingrained
  
once noble philosophies of Islam and Al-Afghani
Hadrami traders who fought your wars
made you sane and insane from the trollied bulwark

of petroleum patsies, nightshade bullies who set

  the motions of torture in pastured green camps

where you made them write and sing unbridled anthems
of mean civilian wars and with magnetic strains of
Malaysia- Truly Asia,

You who lull uncertain trash into

our sullen skies, with more leaden lies

and rare-earth plunders, the haze

from forest fires of late night tangerine whores
behind doors, willing to pay that little extra
for, “Sir, I give you happy ending”,

And against the backdrop of a hundred thousand
rainbow-clad warriors at Stadium Merdeka

You know that we are free

We are free
We can be,

Do not make it Your right
to give us the right –

We will always have

the right to write,

Yes Sir

We will write a new text

We will write a new beginning
We will have a better ending
We will write a new country,

Free from fear

from vicious ding-dong lies and decrepit cowardly threats –
We deny this bongo-bongo land and its oil palm-republicanism
and We will seek flight in the multi-coloured tapestry

that Is this great country

from the ends of this coloured cloak

  of the new and old regal Malays, Indians, Chinese

Iban, Penan, Kadazan-Dusun, Temuan

Rungus, Ukit, Lahanan, Jahit, Chewong tribes

  and the sullies of Allah and
whose tongue it suits –

It suits us All and

We take offence,

You will not stop us

and We will rise to fulfill
the birthright that

  Is this nation –
We will write this in
All our voices,

And You
Will listen.